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Pentecostalism and Ecumenism: Past, Present, and Future (Part 5 of 5) by Amos Yong

Even so, a growing contingent of individuals from academic organizations such as the international Society for Pentecostal Studies, the European Pentecostal Theological Association, the European Pentecostal and Charismatic Research Association, the Pentecostal Theological Association of Southern Africa, the Asian Pentecostal Society, the Asia Pentecostal Theological Association, the Indian Conference of Pentecostal Theologians, the Korean Pentecostal Society, and a host of other such groups in Latin America and Oceania are now engaging in theological, doctrinal, and praxis oriented discussions with scholars from the mainline churches.23 Many of these are taking place in formal conference settings, such as at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Wesleyan Theological Society, and the American Academy of Religion. Two of the most theologically and doctrinally sophisticated conversations with churches are the Pentecostal-Roman Catholic dialogue (five sessions from 1972 to the present) and the Pentecostal-World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) dialogue (1996- ).24

But it is misleading to think that only academics engage in theological and doctrinal conversations across ecumenical lines. One certainly does not need a graduate degree in these disciplines to do so. In fact, Pentecostal ministers and laity are frequently a part of these type of conversations. Insofar as two persons representing different Christian communities have theological and doctrinal interests, they can and do strike up such conversations. And, insofar as both come away having learned something they were not aware of before, such dialogues have to be rated as successful!

Church leadership ecumenism frequently includes theological and doctrinal discussions. Pentecostal ministers have, in recent decades, become much more involved in ministerial associations, especially in urban areas. Most pastors usually attend monthly meetings with their colleagues in Pentecostal ministry. In addition to this, many also attend minister’s meetings organized by evangelical pastors. While the benefits of these meetings are difficult to assess in isolation, cumulatively, a miracle of perception and association has taken place. When pastors from many evangelical denominations come together, they not only have discussions on theological and doctrinal topics. More importantly, they share their testimonies, their triumphs and struggles in ministry; they sing together; and they pray for each other and bear each other’s burdens. These meetings build trust and solidarity. They clear away misunderstandings. They provide a safe and secure platform for differences to be recognized and even appreciated. They are often the inspiration and impetus for common mission.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Winter 2002

About the Author: Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degrees in theology, history, and religious studies from Western Evangelical Seminary and Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, and an undergraduate degree from Bethany University of the Assemblies of God. He is the author of numerous papers and over 30 books. Facebook

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